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'File 8/15 Arab Series - 1933-1939' [‎193v] (386/434)

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The record is made up of 1 file (214 folios). It was created in 31 Aug 1933-20 Mar 1939. It was written in English and French. The original is part of the British Library: India Office The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the Court of Directors. Records and Private Papers.


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Enclosure 2 to Serial No. (65).
Letter from British Naval Commander-in-Chief, East Indies Station, g'[o H. M-
Naval Office, Colombo, to Governor, Aden, No. E.I.-3464, dated the 5th
June 1937.
I have the honour to refer to the recent messages exchanged between Your
Excellency and myself on the subject of a possible visit to Fasht Island by
H. M. S. “ Norfolk ” or H. M. S. “ Weston ” to investigate a reported landing
of Italians.
I wish to take this opportunity of assuring Your Excellency that neither
my message to yourself (times 2302 of 26th May) nor to H. M. S. “ Norfolk ”
were intended in any way to deprive you of the use of that ship should you have
personally considered it desirable. I was under the impression, however, that
this suggestion emanated from the Commanding Officer of H. M. S. “ Norfolk ”,
as I was not of the same opinion as the latter, firstly as to the safety of a ship
of that size in badly chartered waters, and secondly with regard to the effect on
other countries, of the visit of an 8-inch Gun Cruiser to waters which would
naturally be thought out of the ordinary and be apt to arouse curiosity and cause
comment. On the other hand, the visit of a Sloop to such waters would be a-
normal occurrence and likely to pass unnoticed.
The landing of Italians on various Islands in the Red Sea has been con
stantly reported, and with one exception only these reports have proved entirely
I do understand, however, that some Italians have been prospecting for oil
in the Sarafan and other Islands, and I have even heard it rumoured that they
have asked permission to prospect in Kamaran Island and its vicinity.
I am not, however, so seriously concerned about the above information, as
I am of the fact that Italians have engaged a large number of Yemeni subjects
during the last year for service in Eritrea as labourers, or possibly even, accord
ing to some reports, as soldiers.
Apparently the Italians send these labourers back to Hodeida periodically,,
with ample sums of money, and engage others in their place.
It is surely unreasonable to engage labourers for such short periods, if
effiicient labour is what the Italians require ; on the other hand, if their inten
tion is to influence the natives of the Yemen for other purposes, this is precisely
the action needed. In any case the Italians appear to find plenty of money to
pay them.
The Political aspect of this matter is hardly within my province, but should
my premise be correct, and the process of educational propaganda continue. I
feel that under certain conditions an Italian Yemen would be easy to bring
I have no doubt that in that case the balance might be rectified by the oppo
sition of Saudi Arabia.
Your excellent Political Officers, with judicious agents, could doubtless
ascertain the nature of the teachings given in Eritrea to these Yemeni labourers,
with their reactions thereto, and I feel sure that such information would be of
considerable value.
These are matters which it is quite impossible for a Sloop, or its officers, to
deal with and which I consider to be of prior importance to the possible occupa
tion by the Italians of an Island from which they might be evicted.
The Red Sea Sloops have orders to keep in close touch with you, and T hope
you will not hesitate to make such use of them as you may consider desirable
with a view to elucidating the state of affairs. They are free to make out their
own cruise programmes which are subject only to the concurrence of the Admi
ralty and myself, and in peace time I see no reason why they should not be used
as you may require.
I attach for your information a copy of a Naval Appreciation of the Red Sea
situation which I recently forwarded to the Admiralty. In view of its most
secret nature perhaps Your Excellency may consider it desirable to destroy it
after perusal.

About this item


The file contains the Foreign Office confidential prints of the Arabia Series for the years 1933 to 1938. It includes correspondence, memoranda, and extracts from newspapers. The correspondence is principally between the British Legation in Jedda and the Foreign Office. Other correspondents include British diplomatic, political, and military offices, foreign diplomats, heads of state, tribal leaders, corporations, and individuals in the Middle East region.

Each annual series is composed of several numbered serials that are often connected to a particular subject. The file covers many subjects related to the affairs of Saudi Arabia.

Included in the file are the following:

  • a memorandum on Arab Unity produced by the Foreign Office dated 12 June 1933 (author unknown), folios 11-13;
  • a memorandum on petroleum in Arabia produced by the Petroleum Department dated 5 August 1933 (author unknown), folios 23-26;
  • a record of interviews with Ibn Sa‘ūd, King of Saudi Arabia, conducted by Reader Bullard and George William Rendel between 20 and 22 March 1937;
  • a memorandum on Yemen by Captain B W Seager, the Frontier Officer, dated 20 July 1937;
  • several records of proceedings of ships on patrol in the Red Sea, including that of HMS Penzance , Hastings , Colombo , Bideford , and Londonderry .

Folios 213-15 are internal office notes.

Extent and format
1 file (214 folios)

The file is arranged chronologically.

Physical characteristics

Foliation: the main foliation sequence (used for referencing) commences at the front cover with 1 and terminates at the back cover with 217; these numbers are written in pencil, are circled, and are located in the top right corner of the recto The front of a sheet of paper or leaf, often abbreviated to 'r'. side of each folio. An additional foliation sequence is also present in parallel between ff 2-215; these numbers are also written in pencil, but are not circled, and are located in the same position as the main sequence.

Written in
English and French in Latin script
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'File 8/15 Arab Series - 1933-1939' [‎193v] (386/434), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/R/15/2/310, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 27 February 2020]

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